The experiences we have as humans are what connect us to the world. Our interactions with people, places, and things shape our perception of the world and influence how we make sense of those experiences. My experience, for example, is much different than those around me. I use a wheelchair to get to most places for a long time. So, while I see the world differently, I also encounter it differently.
Life’s experiences are our center of gravity as people. We are tethered to the world by them, and our reactions and actions are based on those events. For example, I do not react to certain events as someone who does not use a wheelchair would. Suppose the elevator in a building is not working. In that case, I cannot just take the stairs like any other person, so my reaction would rationally be different than someone who an elevator outage would mildly inconvenience. If a curb on a sidewalk is not flat, I am affected and need to find an accessible curb.
These inconveniences are not complaints. Instead, I want to say that I navigate this world differently, and although my challenges pale in comparison to my disabled mother’s, obstacles still lie ahead. Along with dealing with curbs and elevators, everyday chores such as changing bed sheets, taking out the trash bin, and cooking can also be difficult.
The obstacles above are not to complain but to highlight that it is essential to acknowledge and understand the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities in their daily lives. Unfortunately, these challenges are often invisible to those who are able-bodied. Still, they can significantly impact a person’s ability to participate fully in society and enjoy life. Therefore, we must work towards creating a more inclusive and accessible world that accommodates and respects the diverse needs of all individuals. This can be achieved through changes in infrastructure, policies, and attitudes towards disability.
It is evident that our experiences differentiate us and influence how we react and interact in the world. My experience as a wheelchair user has taught me to be more considerate of how other people are affected by their circumstances. I cannot control the world around me, but I can control my reaction to it and find ways to help others best navigate their own lives. As humans, we are wired with empathy and understanding that allows us to connect in ways beyond differences and builds bridges instead of walls between us. Therefore, understanding our experiences and how they affect us can be anything from life changing for an individual or something that unites those sharing similar views. If we ensure our continued mindsets are open-minded and empathetic, humanity will discover unimagined connections regardless of differences amongst individuals